In the mainstream news it was a low-key announcement, but in the Web3 /crypto world, you would have been hard-pressed not to see or read about the report this week making known GoDaddy’s (the world’s largest Web2 domain registrar) new integration with Web3, ethereum-based domain registrar ENS. For non-crypto heads, to properly understand the implications of this new commercial arrangement between the companies, it may require a few minutes of online ‘geeking out’ to non-technical explanations of what a Web3 domain actually is or does. But for our purposes here, we can think of it as formalization of a 3-way relationship between a website, an ethereum-based Web3 wallet address, and a custodial crypto exchange (like your Coinbase app). And like your regular .com IP address, where computer code is represented in a searchable and readable format (www.WellesleyHillsFinancial.com for example), your cryptographic ethereum wallet address linked to your website URL manifests itself in a similar searchable and readable way (wellesleyhillsfinancial.eth).
So, what’s in an .ETH name?
Well, contrary to Shakespear’s declaration that a name is meaningless, and that the true meaning and essence of all things is derived from what they actually ‘do or are’, the GoDaddy/ENS integration has real world significance and functional consequences.
For starters, though the technical wherewithal already existed to link Web3 and Web2 domains, this new integration makes it easy, seamless, and a heck of a lot cheaper (in Ether ‘gas’ fees) to do, to the extent that it doesn’t require a website admin to have a degree in computer science and cryptography to connect the two domain types.
Secondly, this is an extraordinarily large step forward in the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology. The implication being a major move away from the existing Web2 paradigm where market power is concentrated among a few massive platforms, and toward the Web3 model of a distributed, decentralized web where users have significantly greater control over their personal information and how it’s used.
And lastly, but certainly not least, there’s a payments ramification too. To connect your Web2 and Web3 domains, you need to pay for and execute a smart contract through your associated crypto custodian application (again, for many of us mainstreamers, this is our Coinbase app). If you’re connecting all the dots here (pun very much intended), you can see the emergence of an architecture that now allows a person to accept crypto as payment through his/her company’s website (and by extension, business). And yes, those payments being transacted are done with cryptocurrency.
So, what’s in a .ETH name?
Clearly, quite a lot.